When Shaun Wright-Phillips joined Chelsea more than seven years ago he was one of the great emerging talents of English football who has, since those days, simply lost his way. Last night, he came in from the cold in spectacular fashion.
It was Wright-Phillips' goal that gave Queen's Park Rangers what is arguably the most surprising result of the Premier League season so far.
It was great testament to manager Harry Redknapp, who kept his team tight and solid and held out for a goal on the break. There were exceptional performances from Julio Cesar, in goal, and the likes of Ryan Nelsen and Esteban Granero and, yes, they needed a bit of fortune. But what a night and what a result.
For Chelsea, it was a dreadful set-back after four straight victories in the league under Rafa Benitez and the team left to booing from their own fans. It also demonstrated how much this side misses a striker who can be relied upon. Demba Ba is expected to sign today and given Fernando Torres' performance last night, it cannot come soon enough.
For Chelsea in the first half there was frustration. For QPR, at least the basics were back in place after the lesson Liverpool gave them at Loftus Road three days previously. Without a recognised centre-forward, however, they scarcely mustered a shot worthy of the name and with Ross Turnbull in goal for the home side they did not look quite as forbidding.
As the game continued scoreless, first Eden Hazard and then Juan Mata were sent on by Benitez to try to force the issue, so the battered confidence of poor old QPR began to grow. Their supporters, who had singled out Ashley Cole, a substitute last night, and sung to him that he was "John Terry's b***h" earlier, dared to believe they could get something.
It was from a corner that QPR finally broke through, one that was won by their own hard work. When the ball came out, Adel Taarabt teed it up nicely for Wright-Phillips who struck a wonderfully well-judged right-foot shot past Turnbull and inside the goalkeeper's right post.
There was one more anxious moment for QPR when Branislav Ivanovic won a free-kick outside the area which David Luiz struck into the wall. At the final whistle, Redknapp punched the air in front of his supporters, his pronouncement on Sunday that his side could stay up this season looking a lot more credible.
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- Chelsea F.c.
- Fernando Torres
- Harry Redknapp
- Liverpool FC
- Loftus Road Stadium
- Premier League
- Queens Park Rangers